‘We are not there to defy the will of the people’: Lord Heseltine admits defeat in campaign to Remain
Lord Heseltine has said the election result is a clear sign that he and fellow Remain supporters have “lost”, admitting there was no point in “fighting on”.
The former Conservative deputy Prime Minister had called on voters to support the Liberal Democrats or independent candidates expelled by Johnson from the Tory party.
However he now says his message did not reach enough voters after Johnson won an 80-seat majority.
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“They didn’t listen because they wanted to get out of the austerity and they saw Brexit as a route to do that,” Heseltine told Sky News.
“We’ve lost, we have to face up to that, we’re going to leave Europe.”
The peer had his Tory whip withdrawn earlier this year after suggesting he would experiment with voting Lib Dem at European Parliament elections.
He was also a supporter of the People’s Vote campaign for a second EU referendum.
However he is now set to abandon that campaign.
“The reality is Boris Johnson has got a thumping parliamentary majority and there’s no way they will not get their legislation through in very short order – so we will leave the EU,” he said.
“We’ve then got a period of uncertainty but, frankly, it’s pie in the sky to talk about fighting on in the present circumstances.
“I have no doubt at all my fellow peers in the House of Lords will take the same view.
“We are not there to defy the will of the people.”
The group organising the People’s Vote, Open Britain, said it would rebrand in 2020 to campaign for a “fair deal for Britain”.
The group said: “The People’s Vote will now refocus its campaign to concentrate on vital social issues that this Government must urgently prioritise in its Brexit.
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“We urge the government to avoid a hard Brexit that will be a disaster for our country and instead work with our European partners to get the fair deal that British people deserve.
“The poorest and most vulnerable will be further marginalised if Boris Johnson’s government crashes us out of the EU with no deal.
“Early next year, the People’s Vote campaign will rebrand and reorganise to campaign for a fair deal for Britain.”